He wants to take the “street” out of “street cops.”
City councilman and comptroller hopeful Brad Lander says the city would be better off if police no longer handled traffic enforcement.
The Park Slope lawmaker made the pitch Sunday, arguing that the city Department of Transportation should handle rules of the road since cops have a history of racial profiling and giving motorists a pass for dangerous activity.
“For too long, we have shifted more and more roles to police officers, bloating their budgets while starving the republic safety and public health programs and resources,” said Lander. “Traffic enforcement by police does little to achieve safer streets, but brings with it the risk of racial profiling and escalatory violence.”
The councilman said there were about 46,000 hit-and-run crashes in the Big Apple in 2017 alone, with 5,000 resulting in injuries — yet NYPD detectives bust just 1 percent of hit-and-run drivers every year.
This year, the city is on pace for the most annual traffic deaths since 2014, when Mayor Bill de Blasio took office on his Vision Zero platform of reducing such deaths.
Lander’s proposal — which comes after calls to defund the NYPD over the summer resulted in department budget cuts — calls for cops to stop doing traffic stops and relying on traffic cameras for infractions like speeding, broken tail lights, and failure to wear a seatbelt.
In some respects, that has already happened — with cop-issued traffic citations plummeting this year despite camera violations remaining steady in what some critics charged was simply a work-slowdown by police.
Police would still jump into action if they see dangerous conduct like drunk driving, drag racing or road rage, Lander has said.
The duties of the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad — which investigates traffic fatalities and major crashes — would then shift over to DOT under the plan.
“Their investigations rarely lead to charges even when driver culpability is clear,” Lander’s web site says of the CIS squad. “Their crash reports are kept hidden away from the public.”
In July, the city scrapped the NYPD’s Traffic Congestion Mitigation unit, which largely handled moving violations and was deemed “redundant.”
Lander also wants the city to expand his Reckless Driver Accountability Act approved this year to beef up penalties against notorious bad drivers and repeat traffic offenders.
The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement Sunday, the NYPD said it would “continue to work with the City Council toward our shared goal of enhancing public safety.”
“This department remains committed to the safety of all New Yorkers and fostering stronger relationships with each community we serve,” the statement said. “We strongly disagree with the Councilman’s recommendation to cease conducting traffic enforcement.”
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